CHESTER, Pa. — Eventually, Sébastien Le Toux keeps saying, the goals will come.
But with each passing game, with every crossbar struck and sprawling goalie save, the scoring drought becomes more and more frustrating for a player who netted 14 goals in 2010 but has yet to score in the run of play this season.
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Saturday against the Houston Dynamo, the Frenchman’s star-crossed goal-scoring season continued when he hit the post on an 84th-minute breakaway attempt.
Less than a minute later, Houston’s Geoff Cameron scored to force a 1-1 draw, a disappointing result for a Union squad that had the majority of the scoring chances.
“That was very hard to take,” Le Toux admitted. “I felt it was my fault because we deserved to win.”
In many ways, Saturday’s game was a microcosm of Le Toux’s season. The Frenchman still showed how valuable he is to the team by hustling all over the field, as he’s known to do, and collecting his team-leading eighth assist on a give-and-go with Jack McInerney in the 15th minute.
But no matter how well he plays, he just can’t find the back of the net. Le Toux, whose only goal this season came on a penalty kick, has now gone 1,980 minutes without scoring from the run of play. And even when it looks like he’ll break the drought, the ball just seems to bounce the wrong way.
“The ball was definitely going in except for the last little rotation,” Union assistant coach John Hackworth, who was filling in for manager Peter Nowak (back spasms) for a second straight game. “It’s a funny game sometimes.”
A cruel game is how Union midfielder Justin Mapp called it, when asked about Le Toux’s near-miss that would have given Philly a commanding 2-0 lead in the final minutes.
“Everyone thought that was in,” Mapp said. “We were already celebrating.”
“I thought it was in and all of a sudden it pinged the post and I still thought it was in,” Union defender Danny Califf agreed. “It’s just way the year is going for him. He can’t buy a goal. Maybe it’s a bit of a monkey on his back, but that’s way soccer goes.”
Still, even in the most obvious moments of frustration, the ever-gracious Le Toux reiterated his season-long stance that he will start to score and that the goals will come at the right time.
The Union certainly need that to happen, especially now that leading scorer Carlos Ruiz is off to play in Mexico. But the Union also need the striker to continue to do the other things he’s been doing all season — distributing, hustling and playing a smart brand of attacking soccer.
“We’d love to see him score and I’m sure he’d love to score more than anybody,” Mapp said. “He just has to keep shooting and eventually he’s gonna get one. But he does so much more for this team.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.